The state now has 17.7 million registered voters, and according to Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Justice, 40 percent of those post-2018 new voters reside in the six largest counties in Texas.
Two years ago, two-thirds of registered voters turned out. Four years ago, turnout barely eclipsed 50 percent.
Counties with the top five percentage increases in registration this year, compared with 2018, include:
- Comal – 29%, 130,109 registered (R-74% Texas Partisan Index)
- Kaufman – 28.9%, 93,515 registered (R-68% TPI)
- Parker – 25.9%, 115,621 registered (R-84% TPI)
- Rockwall – 25.6%, 79,059 registered (R-72% TPI)
- Williamson – 25%, 415,096 registered (R-52% TPI)
The largest county in the state, Harris, saw a 9.8 percent registration increase since 2018, amounting to 230,000 new voters. Dallas gained 85,000 registered voters, while Tarrant and Bexar’s rolls both increased by more than 130,000. Travis County had the largest percentage increase of the big five counties, seeing 14 percent more registered voters than in 2018.
The metropolitan exurb counties — Collin, Denton, and Fort Bend — hold the next three spots for the greatest number of registered voters this year. Each saw around a 20 percent increase in its voter roll total since the last midterm election.
Among the all-important Rio Grande Valley counties, Cameron and Hidalgo saw double-digit growth in registered voters from 2018, while Starr didn’t quite grow 3 percent and Willacy saw a 5 percent loss.
Other counties that saw a substantial decline include King at -14 percent, Sterling and Brooks at -12 percent, and Knox at -10.6 percent.
The smallest county in the state, Loving, lost 12 voters since 2018.
Monday was the first day of early voting in Texas, during which over half a million voters cast ballots. According to GOP consultant Derek Ryan’s early voting report, which compiles data from the secretary of state, 3.3 percent of registered voters in Texas voted on Monday — amounting to 576,716. Three-quarters voted in person.
Per Ryan, 46 percent of that total had singular GOP voting histories compared to only 31 percent with a singular Democratic voting history; 14 percent had general election voting history only.
According to the secretary of state’s data, which is somewhat incomplete due to reporting delays from a few places, early votes cast within each of the five largest counties are substantially behind their 2020 numbers through two days. Collin and Denton counties are also substantially behind their pace two years ago while Fort Bend is nearly on par with 2020.
On Monday, storms across the state likely depressed turnout, but midterms, with no presidential ticket on the ballot, draw less turnout in general. In the valley, about 7,000 fewer votes have been cast in Cameron County than two years ago; 24,000 fewer in Hidalgo; 500 fewer in Starr; and 250 fewer in Willacy.
Texas continues to grow in population, and those new voters introduce a new dynamic into the state’s voter pool. Early voting continues through November 4, and Election Day is on November 8.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.